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Blagojevich could wind up in less restrictive prison — but it will take a few years

 This undated phoprovided by Federal Bureau Prisons shows four-man cell Englewood Federal Correctional Instituti LittletColo. Former Illinois Gov. Rod

This undated photo provided by the Federal Bureau of Prisons shows a four-man cell at the Englewood Federal Correctional Institution in Littleton, Colo. Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted on multiple corruption counts, is expected to be reporting to this facility March 15, 2012, to begin serving his 14-year sentence. (AP Photo/Federal Bureau of Prisons)

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Updated: April 16, 2012 8:20AM

Rod Blagojevich’s lengthy 14-year sentence made it difficult for him to qualify for the lowest-security prisons in the federal system. It’s part of the reason he ended up in Englewood, Colo.

But that could change.

Once Blagojevich serves down his sentence to 10 or fewer years, he could qualify to move to a less restrictive prison camp.

When U.S. District Judge James Zagel handed Blagojevich a 14-year sentence in December, he in a sense precluded the ex-governor from being sent to the more comfortable confines of a prison camp. In camps, prisoners are less restricted, there are fewer guards, fewer checkpoints, fewer restrictions on prison movement.

“Speaking in generalities, [a sentence greater than 10 years] is one of the biggest factors that does keep an inmate from being placed in a minimum-security facility,” said U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke.

But once an inmate serves down the sentence to fewer than 10 years, then he can qualify for different facility.

There are other factors besides the length of a sentence though, says Burke.

“One of the things we take into account is his behavior,” he said. Also, there’s a “responsibility score” assigned to an inmate based on how well the person has demonstrated he’s taken a role in his own rehabilitation, Burke said.

Some factors include whether an inmate has addressed substance abuse issues or education-related issues.

Burke said a prison camp has the lowest level of security features. “You would probably not find gun towers, fences with razor wire, things like that,” he said.

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